By Patric Hedlund
In April 2012, a unique memo astonished Native American people across North America.
Larry Echo Hawk, Federal Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, issued a “Re-Affirmation of Federal Recognition of the Tejon Indian Tribe.” Their status as a recognized tribe had been lost due to federal government “administrative error” he said.
Now a long-simmering dispute between members of the tribe may be headed toward open discussion. On May 4 at 10 a.m. a public meeting at the Bakersfield College gym [1801 Panorama Drive, Bakersfield 93305] will be held by the U.S. Department of the Interior, BIA. Defining the tribe’s membership is a central subject for the meeting.
Tribal Chairperson Dee Dominguez says her “great-grandfather, great grandmother, and their brothers and sisters” were born on land that is today within the boundaries of Tejon Ranch. She has been seeking reinstatement for nearly 20 years.
In 1999, California Indian Legal Services noted that a faction had arisen, led by a cousin, Kathryn Morgan. Behind the scenes, over a hundred thousand dollars may have been invested to move the tribe’s petition for reinstatement forward. The money was allegedly from a Las Vegas casino owner. This alliance caused a rift between two components of the tribe.
Dominguez does not favor casino deals. She alleges that Morgan made pacts with casino interests, then tried to remove those opposed to casinos from Tejon tribal membership. The May 4 meeting is to consider how to designate membership in the Tejon Tribe.
This is part of the April 26, 2013 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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